I’m sick of seeing headlines claiming to have a “silver bullet” for diabetes.
The truth is that folks don’t want to do the work to lose weight, eat a proper diet, exercise, and take care of themselves. They want a quick pill to magically lower their blood sugar.
Many newsletters tout “natural” supplements that will cure diabetes. It’s just as bad as the pill pushers touting cancer cures that received cease-and-desist letters from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration back in April.
Even worse are the food articles that are misleading at best… deadly at the worst…
The latest comes from an article that boasts omega-6 fatty acids “could lower type 2 diabetes risk by 35%.”
Now, there are a few warning signs to the underlying research study. First is that it’s purely a correlation study – those who ate the most omega-6 foods had a lower risk of diabetes compared with those who ate the least. That’s not cause and effect.
Second, it doesn’t really address the type of omega-6… and why getting the wrong type might hurt you more than help…
Our bodies need both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. But we can’t make them ourselves. We rely on food sources for both.
These fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat. Unsaturated means that the structure of the fat has enough space for enzymes to get in and break down the fat easily. They’re the easiest for our bodies to digest.
The most common polyunsaturated fats are fatty acids – specifically omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fats reduce inflammation. Inflammation increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and it accelerates aging.
Omega-6 fats also help promote brain health and, along with omega-3 fats, help keep your bones healthy and your metabolism on track.
Both are beneficial. In fact, there’s evidence that getting omega-3 and omega-6 together helps improve your eye health and prevent back-of-the-eye diseases – such as macular degeneration.
We don’t know exactly how much of each one you need… specifically how many omega-6 fatty acids. But we do know that too much omega-6 increases inflammation. At least, omega-6 from the wrong sources can.
The average American diet is packed with heavily processed vegetable oils, which are loaded with omega-6. The problem here is that we’re getting about 16 omega-6s for every one omega-3. Highly processed foods trigger inflammation, and it’s likely the high amounts of omega-6 (and the low amounts of omega-3) we get from these foods does as well.
However, there’s conflicting evidence about how much and what kind of omega-6 oils cause inflammation.
The problem is that our bodies break omega-6 fatty acids into two compounds… One seems to turn inflammation on, whereas the other lowers it.
Omega-6 fatty acids aren’t really all the same. As I’ve said, the source of omega-6 is crucial here.
Don’t start popping omega-6 capsules when you see this type of headline. You want to get not only the right kind of omega-6s, but the right ratio along with omega-3s. Around a 6:1 ratio is about right.
The best sources of omega-6 fatty acids are pumpkin and sunflower seeds, olive oil, and also nuts like pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts.
In fact, walnuts actually lower the marker for inflammation called C-reactive protein.
The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fish, particularly salmon, trout, and anchovies. Flaxseed oil, avocados, dark leafy greens, and nuts are all good sources as well.
Stick with the good sources and avoid the pills.
What We’re Reading…
- University of Maryland’s entry for omega-6 pros and cons.
- Something different: Speaking of silver bullets and Halloween…
Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Retirement Millionaire Daily Research Team
October 24, 2017